24th September 2007 – Leeds Joseph’s Well
Deborah was still ill so I had to call Malcolm to tell him we were going to have to pull out of tonight’s performance. Alas, Maya SohoDolls was also ill, so the whole show was pulled. On one level this was a shame, but realising I had the day off which I had craved so much the day before I gleefully returned to bed to rest up and read comics. Happy times. We had played Joseph’s Well before, though, and whilst the actual gig was good, the two days around it had been an unmitigated disaster…
Saturday 1st April 2006 – Leeds Joseph’s Well
“Please tell me you weren’t wanking.”
The weather was glorious and there were 11 of us squeezed into the van: 586, our friends in the band Remodel, and our kleptomaniac roadie-cum-hanger-on Little Johnny. Little Johnny had just started university in London and was a good kid. He came to one of our gigs once and he and I had gotten on really well, so we used to take him everywhere with us. He would carry the odd amp and help drink the riders, and was a lot of fun. We were heading up to Leeds together to play an all-dayer called North By South Best, a good-natured day of London vs Leeds band rivalry. The bill was planned so that northern and southern bands would alternate, starting in the morning and finishing late in the evening, jointly headlined by local Leeds heroes Last Gang and London bandwagon-hoppers The Holloways. Also playing were The Rocks and the frankly ghastly Pigeon Detectives. We were surprisingly high up the bill and rather looking forward to it all. While Remodel had sorted their own sleeping arrangements, the promoter had arranged somewhere for us to stay.
We were driven by a chap called Matt in his amazing splitter van. It was a converted Royal Mail van with an area up front for the driver and two passengers, a mid section for the remaining passengers and a separate section out back for the equipment and any luggage. It was brilliant. Or at least, it was brilliant until, approximately 45 minutes from Leeds, it pulled into the hard shoulder belching smoke into the air. We had broken down.
Matt opened the bonnet and had a look. He was unable to fix it, so he called a recovery service. We were not allowed to wait in the van while it was in the hard shoulder – safety regulations and all that – so we had to wait outside. It promptly started raining. Faaaaandabiedosie. Matt dug out some bright yellow plastic ponchos, but we got bored quickly and started pratting about in a field beside the motorway, idly throwing turnips at each other. Eventually the recovery people turned up and we were faced with a choice. We could get a jump start, but we would only get the one, so we could either go to Leeds and face the problem of how to get home later, or go home and not have any bother. Matt reckoned he knew someone who might be able to get us home. We had come this far and weren’t really the cancelling types, so onwards and upwards we went – the show must go on and so on. Matt called his friend and the journey home was secured.
We arrived at Joseph’s Well to find it full of REALLY drunk people. Huzzah. We dumped our stuff in the dressing room and got on the whole drinking thing while watching some bands. There was some proper crap on. The promoter told us that our place to stay had fallen through, but he assured us we needn’t worry – he would sort something out. We kicked back and made friendly with the bands we already knew and working on getting performance level drunk. Eventually Remodel went on and played a blinder and we ignored some band called Jack Afro before it was finally our turn. We were quite inventive, according to a review at the time:
“The most innovative band of the day award easily goes to 586, they mixed indie, with electro and funk. Innovation came in the form of bicycle bell, bongos, synths and more. Deborah Coughlin and Steve Horry were a fine combination on vocals. Like a funky Pogues, but in tune. Not forgetting the rest of the band who were also on top form. I am now just desperately searching for a copy of their new single We Got Bored.” – Dom Chalk, Sandman Magazine
Though to be fair, Jack Afro sounded like The Cribs and we were followed by The Pigeon Detectives, so it wouldn’t have taken much to sound innovative considering the surroundings. The Rocks followed the Detectives and were much better. I’d never seen them before, but I knew their singer James through a couple of very drunken nights out – I’d once bluffed playing bass backing him and our mutual friend Keith TOTP at a party in Kilburn – and he had DJ’d at a couple of gigs we had played. They were great – shambolic, but EVERYONE was shambolic live at that time and James was a brilliant frontman. They covered Jonathan Richman’s I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar and were top fun. We checked in with the promoter at this point to find out where we were staying. He had failed to find us somewhere to stay, but no fear – we could stay at his. Problem solved, so we went back to watch the last of the bands. The final representatives of the south were The Holloways. We had played with them a few months before and they were doing the sub-Libertines, two-male-frontmen-with-a-vaguely-homoerotic-stage-presence thing, but now, in the wake of Larrikin Love and Mystery Jets, appeared to have transformed into a rubbish copy of those bands complete with fiddles and ska beats. I got back to drinking the rider dry and ignoring them. Once they were done, the lights went up and we went to find the promoter to get paid and work out what was going on with our sleeping arrangements and to see if that could lead to some sort of party.
When we found him, we discovered the promoter had got lucky with one of the many drunken girls present, so we were no longer able to stay at his. He would sort something out though. A good hour of faffing and trying to make alternative arrangements later, we discovered that he had fucked off home. We were on our own. For fucks sake! We tried to call Remodel in the hope that we could kip on their hotel room floors, but they were not answering their phones, presumably asleep already. We tried to phone our bassist, Sam, who was staying with them – their guitarist Mark was her boyfriend. She wasn’t answering either. FUCK’S! SAKE! We tried to book a room in the hotel, but there was no room at the inn. Drunk and annoyed, we resigned ourselves to a night in the van. There were too many of us for there to be any room lie down, so we all tried to get comfortable sat upright, covering ourselves in coats to fight off the midnight cold. We barely slept a wink. I was by the door, so every time I dozed off I would be woken by a gust of cold air as various band members left the van to piss in the nearby bushes. I was woken at another point by Grant shaking. Fuelled by drunkenness and the insanity of the small hours I desperately closed my eyes again as tight as possible. Oh good god, this was awful. Please GOD let him not be wanking. Please please PLEASE…
The following morning was cold. Really cold. We emerged blinking into the sunlight and went off in search of a fry-up. I was mildly traumatised so had to know either way: I asked Grant if he really had been wanking.
“No I wasn’t you fucking idiot. I was shaking from the fucking cold.”
Well, that cleared that up.
The fry-up was good, but 10 minutes after we left the cafe it was clear it had travelled through my digestive system quicker than I would have liked. I had to find a toilet. And fast. I scarpered around Leeds town centre, frantically trying to find a public toilet, each second edging closer and closer to disaster. I really needed to poop. I tried a Subway. No luck. They didn’t even HAVE a toilet. None of the shops were open, let alone the pubs. What to do, what to do? I turned a corner and there it was: a McDonald’s. An open McDonald’s. Oh thank Christ. I ran in without thinking and stormed straight into the only cubicle, thanking every God I could think of for it being empty. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but sweet Christmas, this was a relief. I sat there for a short while, taking the time to calm myself from the ordeal finding this place. Finally calm and collected, I reached for the dispenser to my left.
There was no toilet paper.
Fuuuuuuuuck! What was I going to do? I sat there trying to find alternate options until it became apparent that I had only one real choice. I exited the toilet minus my left sock. I had decided to be frugal and just use the one in case I needed to go again later and found myself in a similar situation. This was so embarrassing.
Matt’s replacement driver friend – a dreadlocked ginger giant named Pete – turned up and we all got into his van to begin the journey home. His van was even better – it had a TV in the back. I put my feet up on the seat in front of me.
“Steve, why are you only wearing one sock?” asked Deborah.
Bar Little Johnny revealing his stack of stolen Holloways merchandise, the journey home was uneventful. We felt battered and broken and the relief when Canary Wharf loomed into view from the motorway was palpable. We came down into London via Hackney, as Sam and Mark lived off Broadway Market and we were dropping them off first. As the van drove down Lansdowne Drive by London Fields, a mere two miles from our final destination, the engine coughed, spluttered and died. We had broken down. AGAIN. We couldn’t believe it. Pete tried everything he could, but it wasn’t happening. It was a goner. Sam and Mark walked home while the rest of us waited for taxis, girlfriends and friends to come pick us and our equipment up. No-one was happy.
Sunday July 3rd 2011, the Wireless “festival” in Hyde Park. I have just excitedly noted that Louis Eliot from Rialto appears to be playing guitar for Grace Jones. Pulp are due on shortly and I have enjoyed a hog roast. The hog roast works through my digestive system quicker than expected, and all of a sudden I desperately need the toilet. I am in trouble. As I finally get into a portaloo and release the trouble that has built up inside of me, I realise there is no toilet paper. “For fucks sake!” I think to myself as I loosen my shoe…